7.

7.

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Avalynn finally gets to see the mysterious Lady Xael.

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7.

 

The arcane train resumed it’s journey southward with the sound of a warning trumpet blast from the conducting wizard in the foremost car, followed by a sudden lurch forward, just as Denrich and the Princess were preparing to be seated.

 

His hunch was right, for no sooner had Avalynn and Denrich been seated in the arcane train’s dining car than the royal escorts sent by Reddric to accompany Lady Xael to Caelyin burst into the dining car and commandeered four tables at the far end, forcing a trio of merchants to hurriedly finish their supper before vacating their seats.

Luckily for Princess Avalynn, their table in the middle of the dining car was safe.    The royal escorts somewhat rudely removed the standard train tablecloth and place settings and began to dress the table in a manner more appropriate for the celebrity.

The others in the dining car watched curiously as the guards worked.

Princess Avalynn sat anxious and nervous, forgetting any desire for food (or the fact that the waiter had not taken their order as he was so wrapped up in the drama of the preparations for Lady Xael’s arrival.    Though smoking was not permitted in the dining car, she brought out her case of Darx cigarettes and oblivious of the considerations of anyone else in the dining car (including Denrich who was seated across from her), she pulled out a practical magic fire stick (called a ‘flamer’ by the fashionable smoking ladies of the royal court who primarily used them) and popped off the protective top, which immediately ignited the end of the stick long enough for her to light her cigarette.   

By the time she clicked the top back on the flamer to extinguish the magic fire; numerous diners were glaring at her for arrogantly defying the rules.

Avalynn completely ignored their looks and dragged heavily on the cigarette, exhaling the smoke just over Denrich’s head instead of off to one side as any polite smoker would have done.   He wasn’t surprised at all and he simply waved his hands to push the rich smoke away from his face.   

 It didn’t actually smell bad - unlike the tobacco that wizards and merchants smoked, Darx had a pleasant smell somewhat like coffee- but he did not want to sit and try to eat dinner in an atmosphere filled with smoke of any sort.

“Do you have to do that here?”  He grumbled, deciding to not point out the non smoking policy of the car as he knew she wouldn’t care at all.   Instead he’d try a different approach.   “Lady Xael may find that offensive, you know.”

For a moment, Avalynn looked a bit panicked, and her cold assuredness melted away, revealing an unsure young woman.   But this lasted only a few seconds before she put the mask back up.

“I’ll take the chance, Sheriff,”  She said aloofly, trying to sound more confident than she really was, and accenting it by slowly inhaling on the Darx and purposely exhaling a long cloud of smoke across the table into his face.

 

He curved a desire to lean over and slap her and just shook his head while frowning, but said nothing else.   

Avalynn sat quietly and smoked, meeting anyone’s disapproving gaze with cold indifference.

The royal escorts finished their redecorating and stood off to the side respectfully, apparently to act as servants to Lady Xael as she and her party dined.

Then the door swung open and Grand Duke Henpree swept into the room, scanning the inhabitants with a scowl.   When he saw Denrich and Avalynn seated in the middle of the dining car, his frown deepened and he stormed over to them.

“You!”  He said loudly to them, “Who are you and why are you sitting here filling the dining car with that obnoxious smoke?   Don’t you know that Lady Xael is about to dine here?   Who the hell are you?!”

Denrich stood up and bowed slightly to the Grand Duke, “Sire, I am Sheriff Denrich of St. Wemricshire and this is Her Majesty, Princess Avalynn of Baylcothrom, whom I am escorting by order of His Royal Highness, High King Reddric, to His Highness’ court.”

The Grand Duke’s face softened considerably when he heard this news and he actually grinned and bowed to Avalynn.

“Well then!   Forgive me, Your Majesty; I knew that His Highness has summoned you, but I am surprised at the promptness of your compliance.    I am quite certain that Lady Xael would be most delighted to have you join her as her dinner guest, Princess Avalynn,”   The Grand Duke turned to one of the royal escorts, “Find an ashtray for the Princess and inform Lady Xael of her guest.”

As the guard rushed off to comply with the Grand Duke’s wishes, Henpree now turned to Denrich, “This dinner is a respectful occasion, Sheriff, so I am sure you will understand that your presence is not needed this evening.    You are dismissed to your quarters; the Princess will be my responsibility tonight.    I will make certain that the cooks send you something for supper.    They will make an exception to the rules for this special occasion.   Good evening, Sheriff Denrich.”

If the Grand Duke had expected Denrich to be humiliated or embarrassed at being treated so rudely, he was surprised at how quickly and happily the young Sheriff jumped to his feet.    With a respectful bow to the Grand Duke and to the Princess (who seemed very pleased with the turn of events), he eagerly fled from the dining car, glad to get away from the pompous nobles.

 

True to his promise,  a servant brought a finely cooked meal to Denrich’s cabin about a quarter of an hour later as he sat staring out at the moonlight passing through the trees as the train steadily travelled south.

Locking the cabin door, Denrich sighed contently.    He could vaguely hear the sounds of a spirited dinner coming faintly from the dining car, even though there were four passenger cabins and the smoking car between them.   He didn’t feel jealous or left out at all.

He loved the simple life and found St. Wemricshire the perfect place to live.    Let young women like Princess Avalynn pine for the wild life in the High King’s court; he had absolutely no desire to spend any more time there than he was required.

Checking a second time to verify that the cabin door was truly locked, he slid his cap from his head for the first time that day.   There was no way that he would be able to leave it on if he went before the king, for etiquette required everyone to remove their hats before him.

Feeling the slight point on his left ear, he frowned at his dilemma.  Everyone in St. Wemricshire knew he was a Half-Elf and accepted him completely (though he still wore his cap so they would not be reminded).   He was as tall as most human men and could easily pass for human as long as the tops of his ears remained concealed.

It wasn’t as if he was ashamed of his elven heritage - in fact, he didn’t really have any heritage other than his appearance.    He’d been left as a newborn wrapped in heavy furs in the snow at the front gate of St. Wemric’s monastery, then someone had vigorously rang the bell by the gate and had rode off on a horse.    The monks had told him that the tracks in the snow were not from a man’s boots though the horse’s prints hinted that it could have been a cavalry horse.    The only thing found on him was a silver ring on a leather strap hanging around his neck.    It had no inscriptions on it except for some lovely ornate etchings.   Yet a local practical magician had detected an enchantment upon it, though he could not tell what that enchantment was or how it was activated.

The monks had given him the ring when he was a young man and told him the story of his finding.  

Abbot Tolskenn had contacted Mother Julia, the prioress of St. Catherine’s about what to do and she had sent the sister of one of her nuns who was a wet-nurse, to care for him.    To everyone’s surprise, Mother Julia had insisted as serving as a patron (or rather as a matron) to the orphan half elf baby.   

Mother Julia, who was King Reddric’s mother, had fled to the convent when her son had seized the throne after opposing (and executing) his older brother, Fenthal the Third.  She had quickly risen to the position as prioress of the convent and had wielded considerable power as the former queen of Fenthal the Second and mother of Reddric the Seventh.     

Reddric had not attempted to imprison or arrest his mother, though she had supported her oldest son in his conflict with Reddric.   The High King knew of the connections that many of the nuns of St. Catherine’s had and did not dare risk the anger of the Archbishop by trying to have his mother extracted.

So he simply ignored her, though most knew that he was more than a little nervous knowing that she still lived.    

Even now, in her early nineties, the great lady ruled the convent without any opposition and the nuns held her in such high honor that she was guaranteed a position as Prioress for the rest of her life.

She had sent money to St. Wemric’s for Denrich’s raising and expenses.    He had gone to see her numerous times and found her to be the most devout, holy, and charming lady that he had ever met.

Mother Julia had never given him a straight answer why she sponsored him, only that Yesh would reveal the reasons one day if that was God’s will and until then, they both must be content to just wait and not ponder things.

He had travelled to see her a few months ago, saddened to see that old age was beginning to greatly weaken her physically, but certainly not her mind, which was crystal clear.    They sat and talked for hours; she was fascinated by all his tales as a Sheriff and he listened contently to her stories of happenings at the nunnery.

They never spoke about Reddric, though Denrich sensed that the great lady was terribly troubled by conflicting emotions over her ruthless son.   They wrote each other monthly, though the former queen had to dictate her letters to a scribe, as her eyesight and arthritis prevents her from writing as she used to do.

It was Mother Julia that had suggested to him to conceal his pointed ears from everyone.    “You never know how the wind blowing out of the Palace or the Archbishop’s court will change,”   She had warned him, referring to the recent ruling that Half-Elves were now allowed to be members of the Church of Yesh in Albyia and were thought to possess ‘half souls’ which was just enough to allow them to live unhindered in Reddric’s kingdom.

So he had followed her suggestion and kept his elven heritage low key.   Aside from not aging while seeing the people around him grow older and die as he remained unchanged, his life was not too different from the humans that made up most of the population of Albyia.

He didn’t think of himself as a Half-Elf and had decided not to reveal it to Princess Avalynn.    She was too immature and arrogant to share such information.

But when they stood before the King, he’d be forced to reveal his true form.   Yes, Half-Elves were permitted to move freely around the island now, but he still worried about people knowing that he was not entirely human.

He had no idea how many Half Elves lived on the island of Albyia, but he knew that most of them were as fearful of revealing their elven heritage as he was.

As a muffled burst of laughter came from the dining car, Denrich closed his eyes and dreamed of stretching out on his bed in his humble but comfortable cottage in St. Wemricshire.

 



© 2018 Eddie Davis


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Added on July 7, 2018
Last Updated on July 7, 2018
Tags: Albyia, Synomenia, fantasy, elf, magic


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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A Chapter by Eddie Davis


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A Chapter by Eddie Davis


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A Chapter by Eddie Davis